The Star Trek: Picard Season 3 premiere has fans humming and asking questions. TrekMovie had the opportunity to ask showrunner and episode writer Terry Matalas some of these questions. Although it was titled “The Next Generation” and featured the return of Star Trek: The Next Generation characters, Terry revealed that some key story components actually have roots in Star Trek: Enterprise, a series he worked on . We also cover more Trek connections, new bits of canon, and what’s up with Captain Shaw.
M’Talas Prime – a terrifying place named after Terry 20 years ago
Raffi’s storyline takes place on the planet M’Talas Prime, which fans may think was created for Picard to honor the showrunner, but actually has roots going back to Terry’s early days with the franchise when he worked on Star Trek : Enterprise worked. Matalas explains the story behind his namesake planet:
I think it was Chris Black who came up with this at Enterprise. The idea was to name the most terrifying place in the galaxy after me. And when I was a young wizard on Star Trek: Enterprise. The most hideous place in the galaxy was of course called “Matalas”. On Picard, when we were trying to name a location for some sort of organized crime epicenter in the galaxy, someone said, “Shouldn’t it be named after that hideous place that’s named after you?” So the idea was that it be self-deprecating was supposed to be, hoping fans would rush to Google to find it.
Matalas also confirmed that the planet M’Talas in Picard is “well outside of Federation jurisdiction” and that location will be back during the season, saying:
There is a specific underworld story that we will tell briefly.
Frontier Day is also associated with Star Trek: Enterprise
“The Next Generation” had several mentions of the upcoming “Frontier Day”. Matalas explained this new Star Trek vacation:
It’s the 250th anniversary of the NX-01 going into space and the de facto birth of modern Starfleet, and you’ll learn more about it. Starfleet didn’t really solidify until the NX-01 was phased out – this was the first ship to have a multi-species crew and her voyage was crucial to the founding of the Federation. It was essentially the birth of Starfleet as we know it.
Captain Jonathan Archer’s mission on the NX-01 Enterprise left Earth in 2151, and Matalas confirmed that Season 3 of Picard takes place in 2401 “coinciding with the launch of NX-01”. For clarification, Matalas said that the Star Trek Log posted to Instagram last week incorrectly listed the launch date of the USS Titan as 2402, it should have been 2401. And Captain Shaw’s mention of being captain for five years also covered the period when he oversaw the ship’s refit.
The little things that serve the story…or just be “cool”.
The Season 3 premiere featured a good number of small ties, nods, props, and musical tracks tied into the franchise. Matalas explained how that is intended, and it begins with the story they tell in this new season:
There are 57 years of stories, characters, music, world building, spaceships. I don’t know why these things aren’t often encountered in this universe. There’s definitely more of an Andor version of a show that’s totally interesting and I’d love to see that and be a part of it. But I don’t know if that approach is right for this particular Next Generation crew story. I’d say the only thing that’s purely for nostalgia is the In the 25th Century title card, but actually that should signal that it’s going to feel a bit different than seasons one and two. It had to do that.
He dismisses notions of “fan service” and points to a particular favorite moment:
I just enjoy a proper ship departure from the space dock. Is that fan service or is it just part of the traditional Star Trek?
Of course, the new season also changes in small details. The showrunner offered some insight into how some of those decisions can be made, using the example of Dr. Crusher’s weapon and revealed how there’s a nod to a classic Trek game:
In science fiction, every question has two answers, and if you get it right, both answers are correct. Answer one: It’s logical and makes sense within the rules of the world. Answer two: It’s just awesome. The cool factor. And with that opening scene, we wanted to actively show Beverly how she’s in control of the moment. It should be surprising, we don’t find her in a starship infirmary as one might expect. So there’s just something inherently cool about the protection heroine that signals her change here. And in conversations with Gates and Doug, we came to the conclusion that simply pointing and shooting wasn’t enough. The physical act of ramming a charge into the chamber, Linda Hamilton through Annie Oakley in Space Wild West.
We wanted to evoke that. And because she’s not on an official Starfleet ship, because the Eleos is a MSF spaceship that travels through the less traveled sectors, because en route they would gear up with whatever is available wherever they might be , it was logical that the weapons on board might be a bit unfamiliar or outdated. It’s also a fun nod to the guns in some of the old games like Voyager: Elite Force, which should feel more tactile to players. That was both cool and understandable, at least for us, given their situation.
Another interesting decision was to have Jean-Luc Picard wear reading glasses, which Matalas says was another example of a spontaneous decision:
That’s because Patrick Stewart looks really good in reading glasses. Patrick was like in that moment that day that he might want some reading glasses and then we all streamlined it and it looks really cool. And so we literally turned to each other on set and said he was allergic to Retinax.
Shaw is his own man… and he chose Seven for a reason
One of the most talked about introductions to Picard’s third season is Captain Shaw, the commander of the USS Titan, played by Todd Stashwick. While some may draw comparisons to how this character clashes with the series’ heroes, Matalas emphasizes that the character was actually influenced by his last show, 12 Monkeys:
With 57 years of history, it’s impossible for any character not to be compared to another character. But the truth is, Shaw is all his. As we sat down, we just envisioned one character who wouldn’t be thrilled with either of these legends coming on board, for some deeply traumatic reasons from his past. And as a sort of new, fresh approach, we’ve started using the phrase “Captain Stashwick,” based on our fellow 12 Monkeys Todd Stashwick. In none of these discussions did the names Jellico, Styles, or anyone from previous iterations appear.
Shaw was also shown to have had some issues with Seven, who is now the Titan’s Commander and First Officer. But Matalas said there is more to this story:
It is up to a captain to choose his first mate. So clearly that he saw something in her. I think he believes in her on many levels, but I think he definitely has an unspoken grudge about her past.
Picard streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the Americas, Europe, the Caribbean and South Korea. It is also streamed internationally on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi channel and streams on Crave.
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